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Double-blind peer review for Nature journals

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Authors will soon be able to opt for double-blind peer review across Nature and the Nature Research Journals.  Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group’s flagship open access journal, will be joining the trial later in 2015. 

The news was announced in an editorial published in this week’s Nature, with other journals to announce their implementation over the coming month. Double-blind peer review is being introduced in response to author feedback, and follows trials by Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.

In double-blind peer review both the authors and the reviewers are anonymised. The Nature-branded journals will also continue to offer single-blind peer review, in which the reviewers are anonymous but know the authors’ identity. Corresponding authors will be able to choose whether single-blind or double-blind peer review is used on their submission.  Advocates of double-blind peer review argue that it removes biases that relate to the authors (for example those based on gender, seniority or organisation) that might otherwise impact the objectivity with which the review is carried out.

Veronique Kiermer, director of author and reviewer services for Nature Publishing Group, said: 'This is part of Nature Publishing Group’s ongoing commitment to providing outstanding service to our authors, and changing our practices in response to the research community’s needs.  It has become increasingly clear over the years that researchers think that double-blind peer review is an effective system.  We want to act on that, offering this as an option and learning from the take-up and feedback.

'As long ago as 2006 we experimented with open peer review.  At that time the uptake was disappointing and the reviews were not technically substantive, but we know that the research community evolves in its thinking and we evolve our policies to ensure best practice.  We continue to consider open review as an option for the future, in response to author feedback.'

Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change began offering a double-blind peer review option in June 2013.  Authors of about 20 per cent of submissions chose the option, no substantive effects on the quality of reviews have been detected and support for the trial remains very high.  A recent Nature Publishing Group reader survey found that 78 per cent of almost 29,000 respondents thought that double-blind peer review was a 'good' or 'very good' idea.